We're heard it from James Harden, we've heard it from Trae Young, and now we have Damian Lillard coming out and having a similar gripe with how these games are being officiated. With the first two, I don't think anyone feels sorry for those guys because of their baiting past. They were a huge reason why there were rule changes in the first place. Dame is a little different though. He isn't really known for pulling the same shit. We're at the point now where officials are definitely overcompensating, I mean look at what Harden is still dealing with
That's a foul. I'm sorry but it is. The thing is, fans don't give a shit. We love this new look to NBA games. Less FTs and better gameplay? I think we're all on board with that. But that doesn't mean Dame doesn't have a point. I would say that while the consistency in which games are called is still a work in progress, I don't hate that they are leaning more towards "no foul" than "foul". I say this someone who just watched his favorite team get boned by one of these decisions on a foul the NBA later admitted Porzingis actually committed with 30 seconds left in a tie game. It still has made the product better overall and that's really what matters.
Now that we are 10-11 games into the season, I was curious how the numbers are starting to look with a slightly larger sample. It's not something that is impacting everyone, especially bigs. For example Giannis (9.5 FTA) is at the same number as last year with only a slight drop in FTA rate. Embiid (8.6) is still right around his career average of 9.0 despite a slightly lower FTA rate. In terms of wings Jimmy Butler (8.8) is right in line with his career averages in MIA of 8.6 with the same slight decrease in FTA rate. Shit, DeMar DeRozan and Harrison Barnes have found a way to be 4th and 5th in the NBA in FTA even with their slight decrease in FTA rate.
You look at that and realize that 4 of the top 7 in FTA are big men and it makes sense. They get clobbered on a nightly basis. There's also no denying that some of then best players in the NBA are being called differently. Whether it's Harden, Young, Luka, Dame, Tatum, Booker, George, Beal, etc it hasn't made a difference. Their FTAs are way down and FTA rate even lower. That impact is real.
When it comes to Dame's night last night, it is a little crazy that he took just 1 FTA in 39 minutes. In his entire career, he's only had 53 games with fewer than 2 FTA. He's played 693 games. You can understand his frustration. He's seen his FTA go from 7.2 to 3.2 a night. His FTA rate from 36% to 16%. While that doesn't explain his brutal three point shooting (25.5%), it does help provide a contributing factor to his slow start. I'm interested in the reaction to these comments because people like Dame. They don't talk about him the same way you might about Harden/Trae. Dame never really complains. At the same time, feels like more of a "tough luck" situation. Players will have to adapt to some degree.
Where that gets tricky is you shouldn't have to "adapt" to plays that are still clearly fouls. You should have to adapt in a sense that you can no longer do that baiting/jumping into a defender bullshit. Maybe they are still working out the kinks, and it'll be interested to see what carries over to the postseason, but right now players have to just assume that nothing is a foul. Even if it's a legit play where the defender makes contact and wasn't baited, chances are it still won't be called.
Unfortunately for all these guys, it doesn't look like things are changing anytime soon. As a fan, that's fine by me. Whatever improves the gameplay is fine by me, even if as a fan you have to accept that your star players will probably get hosed here and there over the course of the game. It's a small price to pay for a much better overall product.